Ben Nelson Deal May Give Reid 60 Votes
Bargaining session said to have yielded agreement on abortion
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 19, 2009 6:26 AM CST
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY., right, and Sen. John McCain, R-AZ., left, stand next to Democratic health care bills during a news conference on Capitol Hill in in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2009    (Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – Senate Dems appear within reach of the 60 votes needed to pass their health care bill after a final burst of deadline bargaining with holdout Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Emerging from marathon talks with Harry Reid and White House officials late last night, Nelson said "real progress" had been made toward his call for greater restrictions on abortion within the legislation. Reid will roll out a final package of changes to the bill today "and is confident that it will prevail," his spokesman said in a late-night statement.

Reid made no comment to reporters, but Sen. Chuck Schumer, who was included in the talks, sounded pleased. "I've been in Harry Reid's office for 13 hours and I'm glad to get out of there," he said. "But I'm particularly glad with what has happened in that office." Sen. Barbara Boxer, a champion of abortion rights, told reporters as she left the Capitol progress had been made on the issue of separating personal funds, which may be used to pay for abortions, from federal funds, which may not.